Canadian Nurses for Life seeks leader

  • April 3, 2009
{mosimage}Canadian Nurses for Life may retire along with its national director on June 1 if no volunteers step forward to take her place.

Mary-Lynn McPherson, a retiring nurse and busy grandmother, has led the volunteer organization dedicated to fighting for nurses’ conscience rights in the workplace for about 20 years. She has set aside time in the past two decades to advocate on behalf of patients and nurses in the defence of human life from conception to natural death. This has included lobbying government, supporting membership with information and encouraging other nurses to be involved in standing up for their rights.

“There are so many issues that nurses have to face but there’s no protection and unfortunately you do what you’re told or you quit,” McPherson said.

Although not all nurses consider themselves pro-life, that doesn’t mean they want to perform an abortion or end someone’s life, she said. Throughout the years she has received countless letters from nurses looking for advice and support who were not members of the pro-life organization. The organization has several hundred members across the country.

McPherson said issues that deal with ending a life are especially inevitable for new nurses, who usually enter a hospital working as casual employees. This means they are likely to encounter a greater variety of conscience issues.

“I really think it will be the younger nurses who will be hardest hit because older ones will just say ‘the heck with it’ and retire from nursing early,” McPherson said.

Despite having to retire from leading Canadian Nurses for Life, McPherson said she will “stick around” to provide guidance and help if desired. She is looking for someone who is forward-thinking, energetic and a lot younger.

“Health care is changing and I think it (Nurses for Life) needs young nurses to bring us into 2010,” she said.

Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, said he hopes someone steps up to replace McPherson because the issue of conscience rights is growing more important as the threat of euthanasia and abortions in hospitals continues.

“The nurse is the front-line caregiver and if euthanasia becomes legal, they will be faced with these situations and will often be the ones carrying out the act,” he said. “It will push people with ethics right out of the health care system.”

To contact Canadian Nurses for Life call (613) 728-8125.

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